Tampa Bay manager Joe Maddon isn't the only skipper who has made an embarrassing mistake in filling out a lineup card. It happened to a Hall of Fame manager once as well. And a Hall of Fame pitcher. Dick Williams, while managing the Angels in 1976, was once forced to pitch Nolan Ryan for one batter because he inadvertently wrote his ace into the lineup one night against the White Sox. Williams, recounting the story in his autobiography, "No More Mr. Nice Guy," was talking to reporters before the game on June 30, 1976, about how well Ryan was pitching while at the same time writing out his lineup card. He ended up putting Ryan's name in the pitcher's spot rather than Gary Ross, who was supposed to start the game.
"That's right -- while talking about Ryan, I absentmindedly penciled him," Williams said. White Sox manager Paul Richards noticed the error when the lineups were exchanged at home plate. Williams tried to plead for mercy, but Richards wouldn't have it. "One batter, Dick," Richards said. "There's nothing I can do. He's got to face one batter." Ryan was on the bench and in uniform. But he was wearing tennis shoes and no protective cup. Williams explained the problem. "Thank goodness he understood," Williams wrote in his autobiography. "He went out there and stiffly faced one batter, who grounded out to shortstop, at which point I immediately yanked him from the game." Ross actually pitched great for 7 2/3 innings, allowing just one run, and the Angels won, 2-1, in 10 innings.
Williams was inducted last year into the Hall of Fame. Ryan was inducted in 1999.
T.R. Sullivan is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.